IT Brief New Zealand - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
Story image
Telecommunications 8 Review July 2010 industry voices Qualcomm Its a jungle out there
Thu, 1st Jul 2010
FYI, this story is more than a year old

2G. 3G. 4G. Anyone who has even momentarily lingered around the world of mobile broadband knows it can be a jungle of Gs – or generations – out there. But we also know this: most consumers don’t care about Gs. Gs are simply a succession of standards representing the evolution of mobile technology from the analogue world of the first generation to the exclusively IP (or internet based) world of the fourth generation. Between each generation, there are half steps, and within each generation, there are various types of technologies. Some are compatible and some aren’t. Welcome to the jungle. The reality is, it’s a jungle for the teleco industry to wade through, not our consumers. For consumers, what’s more important is what they can now do. Our industry has helped move consumers and businesses from a mind set of “what can I do with my mobile phone” to “what I can do when I’m mobile” to “how will I cope without my mobile”. The shift from 2G to 3G technologies redefined the mobile industry. We went beyond voice and SMS to data. Our phones became more like computers and gave us all the potential to be truly mobile. Consumers have not only understood this shift, they have flocked to it. The global appetite for the likes of the iPhone and the USB dongle have proved this. 3G has changed what it means to be a telecommunications company; shifted the way business is done; opened the floodgates for developers; inspired manufacturers; and introduced opportunities for a whole host of vertical industries. The onset of wireless data capability has forced mobile operators to fundamentally rethink the role they want to play in the future of telecommunications. For example, do they want to be an operator that trades on the value of their brand, using branded devices and services to build up a loyal customer base? Or do they simply rent out their networks to Mobile Virtual Network Operators and new vertical players (such as Amazon with the Kindle) and allow them to introduce the possibilities of 3G to their customer base? So here we now are, teetering amidst industry hype on the edge of a 4G world. LTE Advanced, a leading 4G technology, is being developed as we speak. The question remains: what does this mean for our industry and consumers? In particular, what does it mean here in New Zealand? To me, what is important is ease of use – what makes my life easier at work or play; things which make my life more entertaining and the tools that support my way of life. As an industry insider I know the only way operators can deliver this to me is to leverage an ecosystem that has scale; that has a well defined evolution path that attracts developers; that vendors are queuing up to supply; that is backward compatible with today’s technologies and has coverage everywhere I want it. In actual fact, 3G still has much shelf life left and 4G technologies will, initially at least, be used as a complement to existing deployments to help address the growing demand for mobile data. This is exactly the same scenario that we saw with 3G, which was initially deployed in major population centres to augment the capacity of earlier technologies. The move to 4G will offer higher bandwidth, increased data rates and multi-carrier transmission. While this is important to the industry it will be invisible to you and me. What we will see is better audio and video streaming, higher quality data and voice transmission and so on. After that – no one knows. That’s the beauty of a new generation. One thing is clear: the future WILL deliver us everything we are looking for. The stuff of dreams, and things we’ve never dreamed of. 1960’s science fiction is today’s reality – with or without the label of Gs. The wireless future is limited only by our imagination.